While choice of camera system is mostly subjective, we consider certain items essential in composing a list of the best equipment for stock photography.
Nikon, Canon or Sony
The answer to this question is start with your lens choice and what you intend to do with the camera. Combine that with prices and features of the current cameras. We shoot with a Nikon, but over the last 12 years we’ve used all three. If you already have a system, just use that system, switching won’t change much.
What To Look For In A Camera
Pictures are sold by size, specifically megapixels. The higher the megapixel count the larger the size that will be available to buyers. If you are using a 12 megapixel camera the agency won’t offer your images in the XXL size, which is the one that pays the most. Your camera should be at least 20 megapixels, but we recommend 24 megapixels. If you are shooting with a camera with less megapixels than that, it would be worth an upgrade.
We also prefer a camera with dual card slots. We shoot RAW in one slot and backup jpeg in the other. Lots of time and effort is put into these shoots and you don’t want a faulty card to ruin one.
A picture is worthless to you if it is rejected by the agency. Two of the most common reasons for rejection are noise in the picture or the focus being out of focus. The last two things we look for in a camera combat those problems.
Micro Focus Adjustments are found on higher end models and let you adjust the focus plane of each individual lens. Most lenses have a slight back or front focus when you get them, and this allows you to tune the specific lens you have to focus perfectly with your camera.
Lastly, we look for a camera that is known to have good low light performance. There are times when you’ll need to go to 400 ISO and you want those pictures approved as well.
Recommended Cameras: (They Meet The Above Criteria)
What To Look For In A Lens
General or kit lenses don’t work well for stock photography. Your images should be specialized to stand out from the crowd. If you are shooting portraits, you’ll want a fast lens. Someone who focuses on food photography should consider a macro lens. If you plan to shoot sports you’ll want a fast telephoto. No matter what you shoot, you’ll want a lens with sharp focus. Out of focus images are not usually approved by any agency. If I’m investing time and effort in a shoot I want to control the variables of success.
One that I can control is investing in equipment that will ensure my pictures are in focus. Here are a few recommendations in each category to show you the type of lenses you should be looking at. These are all lenses we have used successfully, so they’ve earned their spot in the best equipment for stock photography list.
We don’t use a tripod in the studio, but if we ever shoot landscape pictures we love our Manfrotto Carbon Fiber.
Our ExpoDisc is essential in the studio. White balance can be very tricky in a studio, especially if shooting on a green screen. The ExpoDisc helps us set the white balance perfectly every time.
We use Einstein Lights for most of our work, but recently have been using the Godox (AD600PRO) system quite often. Need lights on a budget? Most people start with Alien Bees or the more affordable Godox lights.
Get a large green screen background if you intend to do any green screen work. You’ll regret getting a small one!
A cheap reflector can be super valuable. We use them on headshots and also as a cheap and quick way to block out unwanted light.
Guide – Best Equipment For Stock Photography
This post, Best Equipment For Stock Photography, is part of our stock photography guide. Go read the rest to start earning money from your pictures.